Enforcers have issued a truckload of Covid-19-related RM10,000 fines since the law came into effect last week. And as expected, there're a tonne of complaints.

Elsewhere in today's newsletter, another old-timer MP quits PKR to crawl into the current gomen's bed, and Khairy Jamaluddin seeks to protect whistleblowers. Meanwhile, a brawl in Bangsar leaves one dead, gets an off-duty cop in trouble, and blows up Twitterjaya.

Fine lines

To fine or not to fine?

Heard of the couple allegedly fined RM10,000 for not wearing face masks while dining out? Or how about the shop owner and wife supposedly compounded for being mask-less in their empty shop

Since the heftier fine for MCO/SOP violators came into effect last Thursday, stories of enforcers being a little too quick on the draw when issuing compounds and the arbitrary nature of the fines have come thick and fast. 

No one’s saying don’t fine offenders. But enforcement must be fair. Especially at a time when Malaysians are exhausting EPF savings to make ends meet, one can’t just go about dispensing RM10k fines like they do unsolicited advice. 

According to topmost cop Abdul Hamid Bador last week, the larger fine is targetted at repeat offenders and those whose actions could spread Covid-19 (allegedly! allegedly!). Thing is, cops don’t have the power to adjust compounds –– it’s RM10k or nothing for everything from forgetting to scan your MySejahtera app to jumping quarantine. 

There’s also no ramification for coppers who issue the fine wrongly (e.g., facemask is supposedly only mandatory in crowded public places, not inside empty shops and not while eating/drinking), hence no accountability. At the same time, the onus is left to those fined to appeal to district health officers for a discount.

What guideline these officers will use to determine discounts (if any) is unclear. Also, guide or no guide, should Health Ministry officials be burdened with crap like this at a time when healthcare services are already stretched? 

Also, despite Abdul Hamid’s assurance VVIPs wouldn’t be spared, cries of double standards persist.

E.g. on Thursday, PM Muhyiddin Yassin and wifey arrived home from a trip to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Instead of being isolated and ushered straight to a three-day quarantine (remember, it’s 7-10 days for plebs and 3 for ministers et al.), photos show MooMoo and his entourage being greeted by a bunch of a̶p̶p̶l̶e̶ ̶p̶o̶l̶i̶s̶h̶e̶r̶s̶ gomen folks at the tarmac!

Critics have asked if the entire group would be quarantined and will any one even see the outline of a summons chit? So far, it’s cricket sounds from the gomen. One of the fellows in charge, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri, could only muster a “hadn’t seen the pics, no comment” response. 🤦

Is it any wonder then that the rakyat are pissed?

P.S. — If you’ve been wrongly fined and wanna take authorities to court, Saudara Lim Guan Eng’s offering DAP’s help for free.

Blow my whistle, baby, whistle baby

Following the gomen gag order against Health Ministry staff speaking out, and the new Covid “fake news” law, there’re fears these could push gomen whistleblowers deeper into the shadows.

But have no fear, Great Immunator Khairy Jamaluddin’s here! He’s promised he hasn’t divulged the identities of whistleblowers who raised Covid vaccine queue-jumping allegations and claimed he’d had a word with our IGP to let them be.

How much protection will this afford complainers? We’re not sure. KJ himself’s said he couldn’t actually interfere with police work but assured that Abdul Hamid’d understand, what with being a whistleblower himself and all (FYI, this could refer to 2015, when Hamid, then just Bukit Aman Special Branch deputy director, was transferred out for alleging there were attempts to hide key witnesses in a 1MDB-linked case).

Meanwhile, on other vaccine matters, Le Beard has called out the US and its allies for disingenuously pledging a billion immunisations jabs for Southeast Asian nations by end 2022. This, despite the fact first world nations have already bought more than they need of existing stock of J&J vaccines.

KJ has a point. Vaccine equity demands all countries/communities get equal and fair access to vaccines. But KJ’s anger rings juuuust a little hollow when you remember that back on home soil, certain groups of people are being allowed to get in front of everyone else in the vaccine line.

BTW, our Covid numbers stayed pretty much in the same 1k+ range between Friday and Sunday, with a total of 4,399 infections and 10 more deaths notched over the three days. Also, active cases continued to drop to 16,279 yesterday. So all in, not a bad weekend.

Here’re a few other coronavirus-related highlights:

  • Could allowing travel in public vehicles between RMCO zones result in huge superspreader events? We dunno but pics of crowds at the Kuala Kedah and Kuala Perlis jetties are bloody worrying.
     
  • Community pharmacists are now being included in Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout.
     
  • Cops who refuse to get jabbed with Covid vaccines could be made to exit the force, especially if their resistance is due to deviant teachings, so sayeth the IGP. We’re not sure about the legality of such a move.

X marks another one

Two weeks on from Larry Sng and Steven Choong’s twin defections, another PKR MP — Kuala Langat’s Xavier Jayakumar — has cut ties with Anwar Ibrahim Inc to support PM Muhyiddin Yassin as an independent.

Officially, Pakatan Harapan’s ex-water minister has said he’s grown “extremely frustrated” with events over the past year and it’s necessary now, given the pandemic, to support Moo’s Perikatan Nasional gomen. But certain ex-colleagues — among them R. Sivarasa and PKR sec-gen Saifuddin Nasution — suggest that maybe there’re other reasons for Xavier’s quit decision.

According to them, allegedly selective prosecution by MACC that’s seen a family friend and Dr X’s aides hauled up might’ve been a factor. And if that didn’t do it, threats levelled by a current senior minister – according to his former PKR compadres, that is! – against Uncle X might have. 

Whether either of the accusations is true isn’t certain at this point. But what’s clear is that while Anwar’s been making eyes at his former party Umno — he’s now saying PKR and Umno share the same goals apparently — and planning to take Putrajaya with so far imaginary strong, formidable, and convincing majorities, his party’s being decimated. 

Right now, it’s three PKR MPs gone in two weeks. However, if FT Minister Annuar Musa and Moodin’s right-hand man Azmin Ali are to be believed, more defections are coming from PKR and elsewhere.

DAP big boss Lim Guan Eng has claimed his party won’t be enticed or bullied into supporting PN. But while at least one of his MPs at the centre of quit rumours — Mas Gading’s Mordi Bimol — has vowed loyalty, the party’s been forced to sack up to eight fellas in Perak for sidling up to PN.

In short, regardless of who says what, PH looks like it’s in trouble, while PM Moo’s making damn sure he has all ducks in a row when Parliament does, presumably eventually, reconvene (and for when the general elections are eventually called?).

Anwar now feels it’s time to bring back some big guns. The PKR head honcho has said he’ll try to convince two ex-members of his inner circle, daughter Nurul Izzah and Rafizi Ramli, to return to active politics. Whether or not that’ll do anything to arrest PKR and PH’s problems, though, is left to be seen.

Speaking of trouble, Perak DAP held its convention and elections over the weekend and, in short, major drama! We were treated to, among others, allegations of phantom voters as factions of influential cousins Nga Kor Ming and Ngeh Koo Ham made a clean sweep. You can read this article to learn more about what the Perak DAP elections mean for the entire party and possible DAP-Umno relations.

A deadly brawl and other odds and ends

One person’s been arrested following a brawl in Bangsar that resulted in the gruesome death of one man and serious injuries to another.

The reasons for the fight are as yet unclear. What’s perhaps more troubling is that an off-duty police inspector was at the scene of the fight, and instead of stepping in to quell the situation, a video shows him grinning and playing bystander.

According to the Police Act, cops are always on duty and must use their authority to prevent crimes they might witness. Thus, the dude should have acted.

However, he’s since said that cop cars arrived on the scene just as he was about to report the incident.

Deadly brawls aside, here’re a few more things that made the news:

  • The Health Ministry and Veterinary Department are conducting more checks at a poultry farm linked to salmonella contaminated eggs. On Friday, Singapore directed several importers to recall eggs from the farm after salmonella was detected.
     
  • AG Kalidas is the new head of the Malaysian Bar. The lawyer was previously the body’s secretary.
     
  • Police have issued a warning: respect the court’s decision on use of the word “Allah” and don’t dare take to the streets to protests. That means you too, Umno.
     
  • De facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan has said it was the Agong who gave the nod for emergency ordinances that could see folks fined up to RM100,000 for fake news. Zaid Ibrahim, himself a former law minister, has, however, called Taki out, noting that just because a law requires royal assent, it doesn’t mean the King agrees with it.
     
  • Speaking of kings and fake news, a news portal thought it was being mighty funny when it published the clickbait-y headline “Malaysia King Arrested After Assaulting Uber Driver In San Francisco“. We, however, think tagging such a header to a story starring a woman named Malaysia King and no actual Malaysian royal was mighty irresponsible. This is the kind of stupid shit that gives the media a bad name. 
     
  • A planned rare earth mine in the Jelai forest might be as large as 924 football fields if the project gets greenlit. The proposed site, which sees Sungai Telum passing through, is near two Orang Asli villages.
     
  • The Star’s celebrating its 50th birthday by allowing readers to revisit the paper’s frontpages from Sept 9, 1971, to the present day. Basically, you can glimpse what happened on your birthday (unless you’re older la). This is pretty cool. Check it out.

“Actions defined a man; words were a fart in the wind.”

- Mario Puzo, The Last Don -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • French mag Charlie Hebdo’s come under fire for a cartoon depicting Queen Elizabeth II kneeling on the neck of Meghan Markle à la George Floyd’s killing.

    The magazine, you’ll recall, was at the centre of a deadly attack in 2015 following the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
     
  • A police officer’s been charged with the kidnap and murder of 33-year-old British woman Sarah Everard. Everard’s case has dominated column inches and sparked debates in Britain on women’s safety following her disappearance in South London and the eventual discovery of her body some 80km away.

    Police have also been criticised for their handling of mourners gathered at a peaceful vigil for Everard despite Covid restrictions.
     
  • Marvellous Marvin Hagler, a dominant force in middleweight boxing in the 1980s, has died aged 66. Hagler is best known for a no-holds-barred slugfest with Thomas Hearns labelled “The War”.
     
  • The WHO has backed the continued use of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine even as several countries have decided to pause their rollouts following reports of blood clots in jab recipients. Meanwhile, a new study reveals the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 94% effective against asymptomatic cases.
     
  • The US is continuing to stockpile Covid vaccines, despite already having enough to immunise its adult population three times over. Yet, the Biden administration is refusing to share or sell the surplus to the rest of the world. That’s a really douchey thing to do, Joe. Positively Trumpian.

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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